CITY OF THE CROWN: THE PICTURES
My Sydney Music Playlist
MY VIDEO LOGS & JOURNAL
It is isolated; even by today’s standards. Sure, you can txt/ Skype someone from anywhere in the world or get a flight but Australia is over 16hrs from California, 15hrs from the Middleast, and over 16hrs from Europe. The only thing close to it is New Zealand, with a relatively small population of 4,433,100.
The influence of British rule in the Australian and New Zealand cultural landscape quickly became apparent . I had known that Australia was one of Great Britain’s biggest holdings in the past but I hadn’t realized how close the two countries really are. I would say about half of all the people we heard had a distinctly British accent. Even though the Australian accent is close to a British one, if you pay attention, you can tell the difference. The country’s flag is a descendant of the British flag and Queen Elizabeth is still printed on Australian and New Zealand currency. Australians are big on their “high tea” time as well.
A lifelong citizen (mid 30s) explained to me, “Australia and New Zealand are independent, but still loyal to the Crown” his words not mine. I would agree with that statement and say many of the people seemed like Brits who were just residing in Australia. This is along the same lines in the military when it is said that "an Officer is not a Soldier, but he is of the Soldiers". This of course, is Sydney. Other areas such as Katoomba (The Blue Mountains) had a more distinct Australian accent and different attitude. In summation, British influence is abundantly clear here.
Be aware that Sydney is an expensive place. I won’t get into it again but check out my country overview of Australia for details. After arriving at the Sydney Airport I decided I would stay there overnight and wait for my wife to arrive the next morning. I didn’t want to start gallivanting around without her or pay for a hotel since center city hotel accommodations weren’t cheap. I was just elated to be off the god forsaken plane and out of the Middleast. I’ve seen enough sand and rocks in my life thanks to that place. The British and Australian accents were refreshing at the time and I figured it was just one night. My first squatting spot was perfect, second floor of the airport in a coffee shop with a big leather couch. I threw my trusty leather coat over me for a blanket. Then I tied some fishing cord from my wrist to my bags as I have highlighted in my (Party Animal blog) and dozed off.
It was about 11:00pm when Airport security realized they had someone sleeping in the second floor coffee shop and I was awoken, being poked with a metal detector wand. Some lazy airport worker told me I wasn’t allowed to be on the second floor because it closed from 10pm-4am. Luckily I had been sleeping since about 9:30pm so at least I got a couple good hours of sleep. I wasn’t fazed; I had planned for this, and reverted to plan B, McDonalds. If they have a creepy clown as their mascot they should support squatters. I got there and found a few people who had already put my great idea into action. Most of them were normal, some older lady, a young couple, and then there was Lizzy.
Of course, I was immediately drawn to the outcast. Society bores the shit out of me for which I have admittedly coped out and joined, but not Lizzy. She was a lifelong artist/activist from Nimbin, AUS. Somewhere in between us talking about Great Britain and the 1845 Irish Potato famine we were interrupted by airport security. They told us we were not allowed to be there and had to leave. Everyone started to leave, except for Lizzy, she was less than enthused referring to them in Australian hippie terms as “fucking Uncles” and said she would wait for them to come back. I was delighted because I had never heard that term before. I was thinking it had similarity along the lines of the phrase “Uncle Sam” in America.
I am no activist, on the contrary, I’m part of the establishment. These airport douches were getting on my nerves though. It’s not like I was spray painting phallic symbols over the happy meal signs. I decided to stay. About 30min later airport security returned and this time they weren’t gunna leave until we did. Lizzy told them it was gunna take a while for her to get her things together. I laughed, but decided it was time for me to move on. Finally, I found myself outside, where a true squatter belongs. It got cold but once again my leather jacket and a neck gator saved me. Around 5am I was able to get back into main airport area. I washed my face, changed my clothes, shaved, and brushed my teeth in the bathroom feeling like Tom Hanks in Terminal. My 18hrs of Sydney airport adventure was almost over and I was ready to see my wife. Being homeless is only fun for one night. Remember that kids.
Other highlights of my Sydney trip included the ferries. It was really one of the most interesting things I experienced being there. There was nothing fancy about it, nothing commercially significant. It was just fascinating to me how everyone used the ferry, not just tourists. It had a normal schedule and stops like a public bus or a subway and people used it daily. I saw everyone from the business man in his suit w briefcase to some convenient store workers to tourists snapping pictures on it. I wish I could have such a peaceful method to get to work.
The transits were fast. Whoever was operating the ferry had been doing it for some time because he could whip a fairly sizable boat into a stop in seconds. Another worker would anchor it with a rope and slide a short metal bridge across and bam, a quick off load and load up of people and they were out. I used the ferries almost every day and there was never a delay. It also allowed me to see great views of the Sydney Bridge, Luna Park, and the Opera House while on my way to any other stop in the city. Definitely worth it.
Like I do for each destination, above is a map of Sydney's global location though 99% of us should know where this is. Sydney is located in the Southeast end of Australia in between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Even though street performers weren't as numerous as they were in Rome and Dublin, there was a few. We came across this guy after getting of the ferry in Circle Quay.
One night we decided to go out on the harbor. After hitting a few bars on the way down we got there. The bar we ended up in was almost completely empty until a small group showed up. Somehow we got to talking, probably due to me, since my wife isn’t quite a people person. I’m not either, but if your gunna put me across the world I’m gunna find some locals one way or another. We ended up meeting up with this group. After hanging out for a while they suggested to go down to the Star casino. I recovered this little gem the next morning on my camera. Apparently this was a bit of our walk to the Casino. I wish I could thank them but names can be difficult things to remember. All in all, a great unexpected night in Sydney. Most of it is inaudible, my wife does claim that in America she would punch someone in the face, which is not true.
The next day we got some coffee and were off again, onto the ferry, and over to the Sydney's Taronga Zoo. It was a windy day which I love. For some reason I feel like everywhere but the places I'm at are always windy. Anyway, the zoo was laid out well and offered spectacular views of the cityscape. We didn't have any cash on us for the lift so we walked on the road to the bottom entrance. Originally, I had planned to take the lift to the top of the Zoo and work my way downhill as the whole zoo is built on a large slope. The bottom entrance was closed, so we walked all the way up to the top entrance. In total, it was only about 1km and was actually a good time.
We ended up walking back down the same way. It got even windier as you can see above. The Zoo exhibits had good viewing angles and some open cage areas that you could walk through, this was one of them. I couldn't get the damn wallabies to hop for the camera though.
If you ever find yourself in Sydney you must stop by the old Queen Victoria Mall (QVM), not for the stores, for the architecture. It is impressive to say the least and one of the best looking malls I have seen to date. The stores fit the upscale look with Versace, Coach, Pandora, Rodd & Gunn, Swarovski Crystal, and Ralph Lauren. UGG was also a big item there as it is an Australian company. My wife was excited about that.
Unless you want to drop serious money however, you should head to The Rocks district for souvenir items. The mall featured a great clock, which had mechanical show that happened every hour. At 5pm we got to watch the little puppets conduct a beheading.......this was not your typical clock. You can see a full shot of the it in the gallery on the top of this page.
Sydney was a great introduction to what was one of the most adventurous trips I have ever been on thus far. I really enjoyed the numerous islands that Sydney harbor had to offer and going for long runs through the city was something to remember. I probably covered a good 6 miles and the hills gave me more of a workout than I had bargained for.
And of course there's always those awesome WTF moments that you will treasure, like this one. We were walking down the street when I thought heard a noise coming up on us. It sounded like Johnny Cash? Surely I was hearing things. Nope, along comes scooter man blowing through the crowds with his scooter and a mannequin of Johnny Cash on the front. Unfortunately, my wife had her iPhone and we didn't catch a good video but it was quite the sight in person.
Why is it always the guy on a mobility scooter trying to run my ass over? Oh well, I didn't care. The dude was blasting Johnny Cash. "Get a Rythm". He could care less, he had his helmet on and was obviously a certified bad-ass mother f----- (just like the honey badger). Can't help but laugh when you see a guy on a mobility scooter with a leather jacket and motorcycle helmet.And I think that's how I'll leave Sydney; with that wonderful memory.